Greenville in the News

by Michelle Lasley

Michelle Lasley is a mother, wife in Pacific Northwest learning to balance green dreams with budget realities.

February 9, 2009

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Categories: The Balancing Act

Some time ago, I posted a link about United Solar Ovonic and its new plant in Greenville, Michigan, my home town.  Well, the piece finally aired:  NBC Nightly News & United Solar Ovonic.  It’s a short piece that describes how former Electrolux employees are being trained and employed at the new solar-cell plant.  The company will manufacture solar panels that stick on roofs, and will then be distributed across the world, especially Europe.

I love to hear that  my home town gets to partake in the reinventing that is needed given the current economy and how awful it has been for folks living there.  But, caution is the word that comes to mind when I hear stories like this.  Sometimes, it seems we become so eager to jump on any bandwagon that screams new jobs when so many are hurting for lack of work, we then forget to ask questions to see if it is truly a good idea.

In my previous post, I wrote about how Greenville has a history of smokestacking to attract industry and how that has contributed to the situation Greenville now faces with no industry where industry once flourished because the jobs have all fled to places that offer cheaper labor, such as countries in Asia or south of our borders in Mexico.

I suppose, the only thing I want to offer to anyone reading this blog is to consider the 3 Es of sustainable development, economy, equity, and the environment.  So, even though the new plant boasts green energy, how is the product manufactured?  Is it done with the 3Es in balance with each other?  Does it reach the Triple Bottom Line? Are the folks working the line being paid a decent wage, with adequate time off so they can spend time with their families?  Is the company borrowing on borrowed time to pay for its venture, or do their own books balance?

I just hope those questions were asked before this deal was brokered.  I do hope the Green can be put back in Greenville, both monetarily and with the environment in mind.

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